Boy adopted by Kathlyn Anthony

6-year-old boy adopted from foster care by Kathlyn Anthony was forced to sleep in a plastic dog crate. Connecticut Department of Children and Families investigated previous allegations of abuse, but wasn't able to substantiate those.
Date: 2011-03-07
Placement type: Adoption
Type of abuse: Non-lethal physical abuse, Non-lethal deprivation
Abuser: Adoptive mother


Old Saybrook, Connecticut
United States
See map: Google Maps
DocumentDatesort icon
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Adopters who crate their kids

I've read enough abuse cases to ask the question:  WHAT is going through that loving "trying to do the right thing" mind that says punishment is the right way to gain control and teach an adopted child self-discipline?

Sure, mega adopters like the Gravelles made headlines when their unconventional parenting-style was discovered.  They even took the time to paint the adopted children's bed-time coffin-crates fun cheerful colors, making forced confinement not just safe, but F-U-N.  

Not only that, but those adopting over-achievers were also kind enough to limit creepy confinement time to certain hours during the day night.  These are small sweet details and loving gestures some AP's will not pay attention to, or chose to overlook.  Yes, other dare-to-discipline adopters have been known to be far more cruel and insensitive towards their chosen adopted children.  In some cases, the parenting actions and reactions look more like something that would be seen in a Nazi prison war-camp movie than a loving home environment where the parent is following the call of "Christian Parenting" duty. 

For instance, the Kuths, who received $4500/month to care for 3 adopted children, locked their adopted children in an underground storm shelter and failed to provide them adequate food or proper sanitation. At times, the children were fed dog or cat food, and the 15-year-old was confined to a small dog crate.

"The 15-year-old boy could easily pass as a 10-yearold, that's how thin and frail he was as a result of being malnourished," said Sheriff Edwards.

The sheriff said they discovered the abuse, which may have gone on up to five year, after the oldest boy was found sleeping in a box behind a Braum's.

The Kluth's were reportedly being paid $1,500 per month per child by the state of Wisconsin.

"These people were basically out just for the money. They weren't out for taking care of these kids," said the Kluth's biological son Bill.

Bill Kluth said he's not shocked by the allegations. In fact, he said he stopped talking to his parents six years ago after he saw how they were treating the kids.

[From:  Yukon Parents Accused of Child Abuse, Feeding Children Dog, Cat Food

<shaking head>.... The bio son stopped talking to the parents, but did he speak to authorities about what was taking place in that house?

Another fantastic example of caging for control (and teaching discipline at the same time) is the case of Marjorie and Howard Munson, who, not only followed the advice made by a psychologist, but created a new euphemism for "child cage used for bad behavior".

No charges been filed in the case in which the adopted son was confined to the four foot high crate in the basement of his parents suburban home.The parents said the crate was not a cage, but a playhouse built by the family.

[From:  Caged boy's parents say they acted on psychologist's advice ]

Just for the record, the child was a 13 year old boy, and according to reports, he was forced to live in a 3-by-4-foot crate, where police found the barefoot youth hunched and shivering in a chilly basement .   Imagine the glee he must have felt when he was not only discovered, but given the opportunity to  explain (to the police) he was allowed to attend school during the first half of his punishment, but was expecting the next three weeks to of his six-week sentence to get much worse.  [He had already spent a three month time-out in his "playhouse" months prior to this particular punishment.]  The unfeeling individual might say the child adopted from Columbia (South America) just 1 1/2 years prior to this incident should already be used to such barbaric treatment, but that would imply every foreign-born adopted child is treated like an animal before he/she is blessed with American adoptive parents.  

The police in the Munson case could not tell the boy's age.  At first it was reported the boy was between the age of 13-15, and none of the other 3 adopted children, ages 3-6, appeared to have been abused.  One has to wonder which came first, the oldest foreign adopted child, who got punished for bad behavior, or the three little ones who didn't look as if there was anything wrong with them. 

As great, and as educating as those two cases are, there are more.  Why, I could write a book just on the forced confinement cases we have collected on the PPL pages, but such a task would sicken me, especially if I knew such a book would be criticized by many within the religious and adoptive community. [Yes, people who speak out ARE criticized and the problems they present do get either minimized, or dismissed completely.. I should know, I've been writing about abused adoptees on adoption websites and various blogs for over ten years.]

Nevertheless, I do admit and confess this sick pup DOES have a favorite.  It's not the Bowman story, (but who doesn't love the story of a mother who won't leave two frozen corpses behind in the freezer where she left them?).  My favorite case is not the story of the boy who not only got confined with a bucket, he also got to do chores in the nude, masturbate during family-circle time, and wear a dog shock collar as he ate his meals on the floor, (while the rest of the family dined at the table).

Nope, I am very peculiar when it comes to my favorite example of messed-up adoptive parenting.

My favorite "keep the bastards safe, but where no one can find them, that way we can still receive out tax credits and monthly paycheck" story has to do with five boys and two disabled women, all put in the loving care of James and Stephanie Dickenson.  The case came to light in 2007, 9 years after the first adoption took place.

One of the adopted boys languished for most of his days inside a locked and unlit 4-foot-by-5-foot cinderblock cell, sleeping on a concrete floor with only a blanket, police said.

But authorities say conditions were not much better for his four brothers and the two disabled women also confined to the locked basement of a Lancaster home.

Showers, for the two boys who got them, occurred only once a week or so, and the seven shared a portable toilet that one of the brothers emptied by hauling a bucket upstairs daily, police said.

On Tuesday, nearly a year after a phone tip led police to the squalid living conditions, charges were filed against the Lancaster couple that had been paid about $9,000 a month to care for the seven.

Newly filed court documents allege that the children and two women were generally not allowed to go upstairs or outside, their radio or television could only be tuned to Christian programming and making noise could result in a spanking with a spatula or wooden paddle.

James Gordon Dickinson, 61, and Stephanie Lutz Dickinson, 57, were charged with false imprisonment, recklessly endangering others and endangering children’s welfare. Stephanie Dickinson was also charged with witness intimidation.

Being sent to the cinder block “toy room” where the 14-year-old boy was kept was a form of punishment for the others as well, police said. Three of the children and both women were described as having “mental/physical” disabilities.

The five boys had been adopted by the couple starting in 1998. Two are now 14 years old, while the others are 6, 12 and 15. The women, 54 and 57, were placed with the couple in 1992 and 1995.

A Lancaster city detective learned of the conditions Oct. 31 from a woman whose ex-boyfriend rented an apartment in the same building. Officers immediately went to the home and rescued the victims, police said.

Breakfast for the seven usually consisted of peanut butter sandwiches, and dinner was often a crock pot meal prepared by Stephanie Dickinson — including a dish known as “doggie dew stew,” police said. The Dickinsons were never present for the meals.

Two of the older boys took care of everyone when they were not in school, according to police. During the day, one of the women was in charge.

The seven had unsupervised access to prescription medications and rat poison, police said. No one was allowed inside the basement refrigerator without permission and they were required to drink water from the sink.

During one of the supervised visits the Dickinsons were granted after the five boys were placed in foster care, Stephanie Dickinson allegedly told the 15-year-old boy that “he needed to make things right, that if the family got broken, it would be his fault and he would have to deal with the weight of that on his shoulders,” police said.

[From:  Caregivers charged with holding 5 children, 2 adults in basement ]

How could any adopted child not be grateful for such an adoption story?


I am banging my head against a wall here. I recently called DCF about a collector home that has for years been reported to be abusive. Not only was the social worker profoundly rude, she flat out told me her office doesn't have any problems with the way these AP's are raising their brood (note some of the allegations I have heard about them is that children have been put in dog kennels). As far as she is concerned, her office hasn't witnessed these things being done so therefore it isn't happening. She was completely dismissive when I asked her about these allegations and said she believes people just don't like this family because they have a lot of kids.

This is a major news story just waiting to happen and already damaged kids are going to end up like these stories here.

No room at the inn, eh?

Not only was the social worker profoundly rude, she flat out told me her office doesn't have any problems with the way these AP's are raising their brood (note some of the allegations I have heard about them is that children have been put in dog kennels). As far as she is concerned, her office hasn't witnessed these things being done so therefore it isn't happening. She was completely dismissive when I asked her about these allegations and said she believes people just don't like this family because they have a lot of kids.

I wish this came as a huge shock.

In my line of work, there are many times a staff-member will be told a complaint has been made by a paying client.  When staffing is good, even the smallest detail, like not enough juice, can be given the attention it deserves.  When staffing is bad?

<shaking head>

There are times a paid service-provider should smile, nod, and at the very least, acknowledge a complaint has been made.  In my mind, that's just good courteous customer-service.  "Yes, I understand the color choice seems dull and depressing, but from what I understand institutional gray is making a decorating come-back."  

There are other times a complaint needs immediate attention.  If a delay in action is unavoidable, the person who receives the complaint should at the very least acknowledge the problem at hand will be taken seriously and it will be addressed by appropriate staff-members.  I understand the mind-set of a rushed annoyed employee, but it doesn't cost anything to offer a calm polite reply.  People appreciate responses like, "Thank you for letting me know your thoughts about your situation.  Let me have your name and how you may be reached, that way if I can't address the problem myself, I can report the problem to my superior, and someone will contact you before the end of the week."  It shows a level of class, respect, and professionalism. 

Safety is one of those basic needs that MUST be addressed within a specific time-frame.  As some of our cases illustrate, a delay in action could make the difference between life and death.

If it were me, and I were in the situation you present, I would call DCF and make another complaint.  I would document a few things, too.  For instance, I would note the time and date the call was made.  I would ask the DCF representative on the phone to spell his/her first and last name, and staff position. And if appropriate, I would ask if I should expect a phone call from the social worker assigned to the case, and if so, what's a realistic time-frame I can expect to receive this call.

This may take a few more minutes out of your day, but it could also save the life of a child.


Pound Pup Legacy